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Iceland Christmas Eve: The Book Flood

Fun Fact: · Icelanders give each other books on Christmas Eve and typically spend the night before Christmas reading.

Books are the most popular Christmas gift in Iceland. Every year Iceland celebrates Jólabókaflóðið, which translates to “Christmas Book Flood” in English. During this, each household receives a copy of the Iceland Publishers Association’s catalog of all the books being published that year. Many book publishers sell a majority of their stock during this period as people buy books for their friends and family members. This may contribute to the country’s high literacy with the average Icelander reading 2.3 books per month while the average American reads only four books a year.

This tradition dates back to its economic policies after World War II as the country became a fully autonomous republic. At the time, Iceland had import restrictions making most foreign products difficult for people to get with the major exception of paper. This led books to become a common gift purchase in a practice that still continues to this day.


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